Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Am Trying To Understand Gamer Rage Over GOTY Lists

When the PC Gamer Game Of The Year selections were slowly being posted, I'll admit that I took a perverse glee in reading the asinine and outraged comments beneath each one. Like how dare PC Gamer come to a consensus about some games they enjoyed and share those conclusions with the world.

For example, I am a subscriber to the magazine, so when they decided that Spelunky was their Game of the Year,  I had remembered that in an earlier issue, that they had given it a score of 96/100. Looking at Metacritic, there are only a few games that they have given equal or higher scores to: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Half Life 1 and 2, Minecraft, Civilization II, Crysis and The Sims. So it should have been no surprise that PC Gamer gave the award to Spelunky.

Some people didn't agree:

And that one is a rare comment that actually mentioned other games that it should have been instead. Most do not. They simply complain about the choice without offering up an alternative.

Part of the humor for me comes from the fact that I really don't understand the anger. It makes me seriously ask, does a website or magazine picking a title that they didn't like somehow invalidate these people's entire existence? It is someone or a group of people saying they liked something... it isn't a personal affront to you or your way of life. 

The game that ended up being the gold standard of this kind of angry denunciation by gamers in comments this year was Gone Home. It was ugly... it is the only way to put it. It was a perfect storm of a game that was relatively short, had a female protagonist and told a story in a non-violent way through the exploration of a house in a non-horror setting. It won a lot of awards, and certain segments of the gaming community hated not just the fact that it won, but that it even exists. They went out of their way to spoil key plot points of the narrative and say things like it was destroying gaming, or that it wasn't a game at all or other awful things. These comments were flowing as the lists were being announced, so it was a long term process. (And don't get me wrong, there are an exceedingly large number of people who enjoyed and loved Gone Home in the fan community as well).

Again, no one is forcing you to play it. No one. You like something else? That's great. That is your game of the year. Because there is a definite difference between having a respectful disagreement and setting out to wreck the future experience of other players by deciding to tell everyone what the story is of a short game. It's not cool. That is beyond the bounds of spoiler etiquette.

I am invested in the games and other things I love doing well and getting critical recognition. There are genres of games that I don't like. If a game from one of those genres won a Game Of The Year award over a game I loved, I'd be still okay with it. I wouldn't spend my time ripping on the game that won in the way a lot of these commenters do.

And I am saying that as someone who wrote a twitter diatribe against the RoboCop remake to the official account for the movie... so I still have moments of geek rage.

EDIT: Well, someone wrote an article recently for the International Business Times which seems to answer this very question. The article is titled Why Do Gamers Obsess Over Review Scores?


Kristyn Hammond said...

I will never understand people who freak out about these things. Games can be good and still not win GOTY. Everyone knows WoW and SWTOR and the like are good games, it doesn't hurt to see one that isn't as mainstream (or maybe it is, I haven't heard of it, though) win.

Also, THANK YOU!! I am way, way out there on this whole Robocop thing. I see the commercials and smh. It's sort of pointless to remake it. I am so, so not seeing it. While the other member of my household has decided he wants to see it. At least he's willing to wait for BluRay. I just feel like some things should be left alone.

MC said...

Funny you should mention WoW. I have an old PC gaming magazine from 2003 where two different people are complaining about the preview coverage for WoW, because it was way too glowing, and how could a company who had no experience making an MMORPG make something that anyone would want to play for months or years. In retrospect, all there complaints had no merit... and it seems like no matter what age of gaming you are looking at, there are always people who are looking to tear something down.

There is a newer movie that is in keeping with RoboCop that I fully supported: Dredd. It really feels like it was consistent with the source material and it has that ultra-violent and socially relevant set of themes that Verhoeven had in RoboCop (though doesn't have the black comedy elements).